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On Friday, August 16, at 3:45 a.m., an unauthorized discharge occurred at the Elkins Lake Dam Lift Station.
An independent contractor was attempting to make scheduled repairs that included a tie-in for the connection of the new lift station Thursday night, August 15. The work was being conducted during a time that influent flows are at the lowest for the treatment plant. Brent Sherrod, Public Works Director for the City of Huntsville, said that although the contractors measured the pipe and had fittings on hand, along with extra fittings in case of a failure, the pipe at the location where the line was cut was a different size than the parts that the contractor had on site. The overflow continued until 7:12 p.m. Friday, with a total volume of 165,079 gallons spilled. TCEQ visited the site to monitor the spill and took samples. The City also dispatched Environmental Services Laboratory Technicians to collect and analyze samples.
The contractor continued to work diligently with two different solutions to rectify the problem, but it did not progress as quickly as hoped. A bypass line was installed on top of the ground from the lift station to the plant while work continued on the original bypass with additional fittings and personnel.
"This is not a problem that the city created nor could have prevented," said Sherrod. "The contractor has taken responsibility for the problem."
The area potentially affected included an uninhabited non-residential area of the Sam Houston Forest, 1.75 miles south of the Elkins Lake #3 Dam. City officials expect the impact on the public to be minimal as there are no public or private sources of drinking water within the affected area.
Appropriate local government officials and the TCEQ regional office were notified on August 16, 2019, per state statute. For further information, please contact the City’s Public Works Director Brent S. Sherrod, P.E. at 936-294-5700.